In any service-based industry, jobs are almost always billed in or based on man hours. So what does that mean? We get this question all the time! Here’s an easy way to think about it.
Say you have a room with four walls that needs to be painted. You’re going to do it yourself. Each wall takes you 1 hour. You start at noon and finish at 4pm.
1 hour per wall x 1 person x 4 walls = 4 man hours
Now let’s imagine your friend owes you a favor and comes over to help you. Each wall will still take one hour to paint, but now you can split up the work. You each take two walls. You start at noon and the job is completed at 2pm.
1 hour per wall x 2 people x 2 walls each = 4 man hours
Maybe you have really good friends. Or maybe you’re bribing them with pizza and beer. Three friends come over, totaling four of you. Each person paints one wall. You start and noon and you’re all done at 1pm.
1 hour per wall x 4 people x 1 wall each = 4 man hours.
In each of these scenarios, the man hours required to complete the job remain the same, even though the number of people and time you finished changes.
In other words, the total amount of work present remains constant. You have 4 walls and they each take one hour to paint. How you slice it from there can help the job go faster or slower if you’re watching the clock, but it never affects the total amount of work (man hours required) for the job to be completed.
Hourly Rate Jobs
What if you decided to hire a company to paint your room instead of painting it yourself? You call up PJ’s House Painting and ask for a quote. They tell you they bill at an hourly rate of $100/man/hour and they ask you how many walls you have. You tell them four and ask how much they think it’ll cost you. They say the average four-walled room costs about $400. This means based on their hourly rate, they are budgeting 4 man hours for your job. You agree and sign up.
They show up, everything is totally average, and you get charged $400. The invoice says:
4 people x 1 hour = 4 total hours x $100 = $400
2 people x 2 hours = 4 total hours x $100 = $400
Now imagine they show up and the room is easier than expected! There are no windows or outlets to paint around, and you already taped off the ceiling before you decided to just hire someone to do it. The crew flies through the job. Instead of an hour per wall with four people, it takes them 45 minutes per wall (.75 hours). Or it takes two people 45 minutes per wall doing two walls each (1.5 hours per person) You get charged $300. The invoice says:
4 people x .75 hours = 3 total hours x $100 = $300
2 people x 1.5 hours = 3 total hours x $100 = $300
Finally, let’s say they show up and it’s a complicated room. There are lots of windows, they can’t fit a roller between them, there is crown molding, a radiator, and lots of outlets. They won’t be able to finish the job in 4 hours. Instead of 1 hour per wall with four people, it takes them an hour and a half per wall (1.5 hours). Or two people 1.5 hours per wall times two walls each (3 hours per person). You get charged $600. The invoice says:
4 people x 1.5 hours = 6 total hours x $100 = $600
2 people x 3 hours = 6 total hours x $100 = $600
How It Applies To You
Our hourly rate jobs work the same way as the house painter’s!
If you sign up for a spring cleanup or fall cleanup package, we assign your job “x” budgeted man hours based on the average lawn of the same square footage.
If we arrive and your lawn in flat and open, you have very few trees, it’s been well-maintained in the past, you don’t have fences, etc., it may take us less time than we projected, and you’ll be charged for the exact amount of time that we’re there.
If we arrive and your home is built into a hill, you have a lot of trees, you missed the last cleanup season, you have a fence with a narrow gate we can’t get a large mower through, lots of landscape beds, a pool area, etc., it may take us more time than we projected, and you’ll be charged for the exact amount of time that we’re there.
As you can see from the house painting examples above, whether our crew is 1,2,3,4, or 5 people won’t matter since we budget and bill in man hours. If we budget 10 man hours for your job, it should take 1 person 10 hours, 2 people 5 hours, or 5 people 2 hours.
1 person x 10 clock hours = 10 man hours
2 people x 5 clock hours = 10 man hours
3 people x 3.33 clock hours = 10 man hours
4 people x 2.5 clock hours = 10 man hours
5 people x 2 clock hours = 10 man hours
Your bill would be the same regardless of the size of our crew.
Your invoice from us will show you the total man hours (in this case, 10) and multiply by our hourly rate (currently $69) to get your subtotal before tax — $690. If you’re ever curious about the breakdown, we’d be happy to go over it with you!
Finally, If you “cap” your job, you set a limit on the amount of time the crew has to work on your property. You tell us the monetary amount you don’t want to exceed, and we translate that to man hours for our crew.
If you’ve made it this far, good for you!! Hopefully you now fully understand man hours and hourly rate jobs and how they apply to you. If you have any questions, we’re always here to help.